Causal Effects of Behavioral Environmental Policy
(Natural Resource Security, Energy and Environmental Policy)
Friday, November 13, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Board Room (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Casey J. Wichman, University of Maryland
Panel Chairs: Jay Shimshack, University of Virginia
Discussants: Grant D. Jacobsen, University of Oregon
This panel addresses the ability of behavioral environmental policy to curtail household consumption of electricity and water. A growing line of research in psychology and the behavioral sciences has demonstrated the potential for dramatic changes in consumer behavior through behavioral policy interventions. Such strategies are invaluable tools for policymakers seeking to address environmental externalities of natural resource consumption when traditional price-based instruments (taxes, emissions trading schemes, technology subsidies) are infeasible or ineffective. While the capacity for these interventions to alter consumption is well documented, scholars have struggled to uncover the primary mechanisms through which consumers respond to behavioral interventions. We lack conclusive information on how to classify consumer groups based on different levels of receptiveness to certain behavioral strategies rather than others. In addition, further evidence is needed in order to establish the ways in which different types of behavioral “nudges” affect diverse groups of consumers. Each paper in this panel develops an approach to evaluate causal effects of behavioral interventions under experimental and quasi-experimental conditions.
Panelists will deliver evidence-based evaluations of interventions that cut across several dimensions and focus on multiple environmental behavior outcomes: water consumption, electricity usage, and energy efficiency investments. Projects evaluate the causal impacts of several types of interventions including changes in billing frequency, the use of pecuniary advertising information, appeals to altruism and social norms, and inattention to price signals. In addition, the studies illustrate the importance of consumer heterogeneity in response to behavioral interventions. Each employs a research design and strategy that reveals variation in responses to different types of policy interventions, the degree to which consumers deviate from standard models of demand, and the persistence of those behaviors over time.
Tying together both experimental and quasi-experimental approaches allows for diversity in methodological perspective and in the use of different types of empirical data at different policy scales. Panelists demonstrate diverse disciplinary and professional backgrounds, grounding their research in theoretical perspectives in environmental and behavioral economics, public policy, and environmental psychology.